History of ECI

Empowerment/ Early Childhood Iowa History

Iowa’s Community Empowerment was established during the 1998 legislative session in an effort to create a partnership between communities and State government with an emphasis to improve the well-being of families with young children.  Within local empowerment areas, local citizens are able to lead collaborative efforts involving education, health, and human service programs. 

 The 2010 legislative session brought about some changes in Iowa’s early childhood structure.  Prior to this legislative session, Iowa’s youngest children were supported through a partnership between Community Empowerment and the Early Childhood Iowa Stakeholder’s Council (ECI).  Both groups have served as leading advocates for young children and their families for several years.

 In an effort to work toward a common vision of a comprehensive early care, health, and education system, the Iowa Legislature established Senate File 2088, calling for a merger of Community Empowerment and Early Childhood Iowa into one inclusive structure.  These efforts lead to the name change from Community Empowerment to Early Childhood Iowa.

 Iowa is committed to achieving results and every community in Iowa will have the opportunity to develop the capacity and commitment for achieving these results:

  • Healthy Children
  • Children Ready to Succeed in School
  • Safe and Nurturing Families
  • Secure and Nurturing Child Care Environments

 The Early Childhood Iowa legislation established two specific programs School Ready and Early Childhood.  These programs provide funding to encourage communities to “work together” to assist families with children ages zero to five.

 School Ready Grants provide comprehensive services for children birth through five including:

  • Preschool and Child Care
  • Parent Support
  • Family Home Visitation
  • Quality Improvement

 Early Childhood Grants enhance the quality and capacities of child care including:

  • Regular child care
  • Infant child care
  • Training regarding quality for providers including center-based and home-based care

4 R Kids Early Childhood Iowa Area Board History

In June 2009 the State Empowerment Board now known as the State Early Childhood Iowa Board went through a “lean” event.  The purpose of the lean event was to improve efficiencies at the state level, improve efficiencies at the local level, find balances between the local and state level, clarify roles and responsibilities, and improve performance and accountability.  In the 2010 legislative session, legislators embraced the lean event recommendations and implemented many of the state Empowerment recommendations.  Merging of Empowerment Boards, now known as Early Childhood Iowa Areas, was one of the new requirements.

Prior to July 2011, Adair, Dallas, Madison, and Warren County Empowerment boards were four separate boards.  The four separate Empowerment boards were proactive and volunteered to move forward with merger conversations. The first merger meeting was on September 29, 2009, which was before the new legislation was enacted.  The four boards formed committees and began diligently working on forming a new Early Childhood Iowa Area Board.  On January 28, 2010 the chairpersons from Adair, Dallas, Madison, and Warren County Empowerment Boards signed a declaration of commitment to work together and develop the Early Childhood Iowa Area. 

 During the time period of September 29, 2009 and June 30, 2011 there were more than 30 meetings conducted in which citizens volunteered their time to form the new area. On June 3, 2011 the state Early Childhood Iowa Board unanimously approved the designation of Adair, Dallas, Madison, and Warren County Empowerment boards to merge, which is now called 4 R Kids Early Childhood Iowa Area Board.  The four county merger was effective July 1, 2011.

To learn more about Early Childhood Iowa and to keep current with legislation that is in effect, go to the Early Childhood Iowa at http://www.earlychildhoodiowa.org/ECI_initiative/legislation.html